Indonesian police seeking one of South East Asia's most wanted men have raided a house in Java, killing two militants.
Two others were arrested in the raid, in which police fought an early-morning gun battle in the village of Binangun.

But police failed to apprehend the target of their operation, Malaysian fugitive Noordin Mohammad Top.

He is wanted in connection with a string of attacks across Indonesia, including the 2002 Bali attacks in which more than 200 people died.

He has also been accused of involvement in the 2003 attack on Jakarta's JW Marriott hotel and a bombing on the Australian embassy in 2004.

Previously believed to be one of al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah's key financiers and recruiters, analysts now think Noordin may have broken away to form a new militant group.

The man thought to be his closest ally, bomb maker Azahari Husin, was killed in November after police tracked him down in east Java.

'Explosives experts'

Police spokesman Brig-Gen Anton Bahrul Alam said that police had been watching the house in Binangun for three months for the wanted man.

"We thought that Noordin was there because he frequented the house," he said. But he was not there when the raid was launched.

"We are still looking for Noordin," he said.

Residents reported hearing gunfire and blasts coming from the site of the house after police surrounded it.

National police chief Gen Sutanto said that two suspected militants, Abdul Hadi and Jabir, were killed in the raid.

The two men, said to be explosives experts, had been accused of involvement in the September 2004 Australian embassy attack in which nine people were killed.

Two other men were arrested, police said.

The BBC's Rachel Harvey says the operation will be seen as another significant breakthrough by Indonesian police in their ongoing efforts to capture the militants.
"People say funny things......."

Peter Kay